Saturday, May 31, 2008

*Things to Do at Home When You’re Poor

Well, okay, we’re not poor in a third world sense. We’re not even poor in a this world sense. Well, not yet, anyway.

It’s just that we are bored STIFF. Without extra money for the, well, extras, we’ve resorted to new entertainment opportunities.

Last night we had a sock fight.

We each took one of Brett’s size 16 bleached bright white socks and had a mock sword/sock fight on the furniture in our living room. Terms like “On guard!” and “My name is Inigo Montoya” were used frequently.

Another night, we heard Jimmy Buffet singing Margaritaville on the radio. Brett started humming about looking for his lost shaker of salt, and before I knew it, the radio was on full blast, and we were both karaoke experts belting out the entire song though our open living room windows.

Our neighbors love us.

People have suggested we enjoy the free things in the life like long walks in the park, flitting about the neighborhood, or stopping to smell the flowers.

I hate these people.

They obviously don’t know ME, at all. For one thing, my dislike for the out of doors is well documented. Why would I punish myself when I’m ALREADY hurting? Secondly, any nudge above the 70 degree mark has me sweating like a boar in a fur coat. So, any free time I might have is NOT going to be spent outside. At least, not willingly.

Also for entertainment, we’ve delved back into our extensive DVD collection. Of course, almost all of our DVD’s are intense action packed movies. This means we’re convinced that if we just drive our motorcycle into a helicopter or hack the right computer network, we’ll be set for life.

Thankfully, we don’t have a lot of movies about the lottery.

We also started watching our movie collections. We’ve watched back-to-back showings of Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and the Lord of the Rings. And let me tell you, LOTR is one awfully long movie watched in one sitting. And it made us start thinking of naming our firstborn Arwen or Aragorn.

Speaking of our hypothetical first-born, there is another activity we’ve increased simply because it’s free and able to be done inside.

And, you know, it’s not a bad compensation for being broke.

*this is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the movie Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead for the movie-challenged

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Three Amigos Accolades

Watching The Three Amigos was even BETTER than I expected!

I remembered a lot of the lines and pretty much quoted 2/3 of the movie out loud (much to Brett’s chagrin).

I couldn’t tell you the last time I watch TTA, but I loved it on first sight! Unlike the cheesy, promiscuous Saturday Night Live-type movies before and after it, TTA has an endearing, hilarious charm. And it’s way better than Judd Apatow’s famously filthy smut that masquerades as comedy nowadays.

I’m not a Chevy Chase fan. Smug little man. I’m not even all that spun up about Steve Martin. I did like Martin Short for the ten seconds he was famous. BUT, in this movie, they are PERFECT together!

If you want a funny (relatively clean) movie, this is the ticket!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Baby Face Gets a Fresh Start

Tie a yellow ribbon ‘round the old oak tree!

Happy days are here again.

When I got home last night, I got a HUGE surprise! Brett finally shaved off that dreadful Fu Manchu. He met me at the door with his sweet, clean-shaven face and said, “A new look for new opportunities."

I was floored in an absolutely happy way. I abhor facial hair, even though Brett’s had it for most of our life together. My rule is that he can grow a mustache, goatee, beard, Fu Manchu, whatever…as long as he knows it means I will NOT kiss him. If he has facial hair, he gets cheek kisses or quick pecks, only.

I’m not a germ-a-phobe, but here are my own personal feelings on the matter.

Kissing someone with facial hair is equivalent to kissing a squirming den of caterpillars. It’s bad for your skin (the kissee). You have NO idea what microscopic food or germ particles might be trapped in the hair, and the fact that it’s directly under someone’s nose and mouth…well, that’s just gross.

So last night, we made out like a couple of teenagers!

Best line of the night was from Brett, “Remind me again why I ever grow a beard?”


Friday, May 16, 2008

Okay, So Whatever REALLY Doesn’t Kill You…

So, now, BOTH Brett and I have bronchitis!

We’re both hacking, coughing, sneezing, blowing, headachy, and deeply resenting our sore throats!

It’s gonna be one of THOSE weekends. When a “youngest” and an “only” get sick…watch out!

(And, frankly, you all KNOW how cranky I get when I can’t talk!)

Prayers, mediation, and hot soup appreciated!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Whatever Doesn’t Kill You…

It started with a phone call.

I had one of THOSE days and decided to call Brett and see if he wanted to divert to Panera on his drive home for dinner. I envisioned us devouring bagels and cream cheese and just talking.

But when I buzzed him on the two-way, he told me he was already home.

Knowing he’d been battling bronchitis, I just assumed he had come home sick.

“How was your day, hon?” I asked.


“Was it a bad day?” I asked, confused by his silence.

“Are you at home or work?” he asked me.

“I’m at work, but I’m about to head out for the day. Honey, is something wrong? Did something happen at work today?”

After 8 years of marriage, I know my husband well enough to know the difference between a bad day and something worse.

I heard his labored breathing on the phone, a quiet sigh, and then the words.

“They let me go today.”

I imagine it must be exceedingly difficult for a man to tell his wife that he lost his job. Especially if that wife is me.

I imagine it’s hard for anyone to tell their spouse this news. There is always a concern the other person might fly off the handle or get sick with worry.

“Did they tell you why?” I asked, keeping my voice neutral.

“They were letting a lot of people go. They used the E-2 as an excuse, and there were other things they were telling people as reasons.” Brett’s voice was cautious.

I breathed in very slowly and asked the Lord to weigh in on every thought that had just zinged through my head. I begged for guidance and a reaction that would glorify God, despite my all-too-human emotions cruising dangerously close to the surface.

“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. How are you holding up?” I said.

I heard a whoosh of relief on the other end of the line as my husband seemed to finally relax.

“I’ll tell you all about it when you get home,” he assured me.

When I got home, I went into the living room and sat on the couch with him. He smiled ruefully at me, and I found myself wanting to wrap him in a big bear hug. Which I did.

We got settled on the couch, and he told me all about it. For almost two hours he talked to me.

This is very rare. Being married to Brett is like being married to a mime. I always joke he has a ten-words-a-day maximum.

Ever since we started dating, I’ve known he is a man of few words. He’s content to let me do the talking, babbling on and on like a shallow brook, while he sits there contemplating many layers like a deep lake that is only placid on the surface.

Last night he went way over ten words, talking like someone who’s been living in a monastery for twenty years.

He recounted being called to the Human Resource office where he was treated like a “broken piece of plastic someone dumps in the trash,” and told me about Gus, the man who fired him in a callous and unkind manner.

Forcing me to stifle a sudden sophomoric desire to crank call the guy and give him what for.

After being fired, he was forced to do the Walk of Shame, escorted by security guards, as he emptied his pitiful locker. He was walked to the guard shack and unceremoniously told not to return for his last check. It would be mailed to him.

“You know the strange thing?” He looked at me.

“When Gus was firing me, I felt this strange peace come over me. I knew I had done everything in my power to do a good job. Whatever was going on was clearly not in my control. I always thought if I got fired I would either cry or run around the office breaking things in anger, but when it actually happened, I just had this strange peace.”

I smiled. Brett’s temper could fit in a gnat’s suitcase (and still have room for tiny, little gnat socks), so the mental image of my gentle giant raging in an office and threatening to permanently affix Post-It notes to people’s foreheads made me grin.

“Honey, that sounds suspiciously like a peace God gave you.”

“Well, yeah, that or the drugs,” he hoisted his recent bronchitis medicine in the air.

(Oh, what – he gets fired and NOW he’s funny? Is that what it took? :-))

“You know, I was so afraid to tell you. I was afraid you would be disappointed. I really feel like I let you down. You don’t know what a relief it was that you weren’t upset.”

“Well, I love you. I know you gave your all to this job. Things like this happen. We’re in this together, you know.” I said, assuming my noble, long-suffering wife pose.

Inwardly saying, thankyouGod, thankyouGod, thankyouGod

“You know what we need?” I asked, getting up from the couch.

“A job?” says my suddenly-funny man.

“Well, yeah, but also some sugar and some chocolate!”

“Cookies?” he asked, hopefully.

“You bet your sweet, fired behind! I’m going to make you the best You’ve Just Been Fired Chocolate Chip Cookies you’ve ever had.” I said, heading to the kitchen.

Over the next couple of hours, I made cookies while we watched Deal or No Deal and made jokes about how Brett should apply, now that he doesn’t have to worry about getting time off from work.

When the YJBFCC cookies were hot out of the oven, I took a plate into the living room. We both ate a lot of cookies, yelling things like “You’ve been fired…into my mouth, Cookie,” as we got more and more slap-happy off the sugar.

We discussed possible new jobs for Brett. Fun ones that had him wearing a chef’s hat at IHOP, or shirtless as a bouncer at a bar. “The lady said she wasn’t interested, buddy. Move it or lose it!”

We topped off the night by watching an action movie, and lamenting our lack of movie- star good looks that would bring us multi-million dollar paychecks.

I headed to bed before Brett (since I still have a job). As I got ready for bed, I found myself thanking God for His abundant grace. He turned what could have been a horrible night filled with shouted accusations, guilt, and anger into a warm, loving bonding experience.

I could imagine myself, years later, asking Brett, “Remember that crazy night you got fired?”

And him saying, “Yeah, those were the days. Remember how God provided for us?”

And then moments later…

“Is it just me or do you suddenly feel like a piping hot chocolate chip cookie right about now?”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Immediate Prayer Request!

Um, so Brett was “let go” from his job today. They’ve been letting a lot of people go, and today he found out it was his turn.

Please pray with us. With his bronchitis and now the loss of his job, I know he’ll appreciate your prayers.

We’re sort of stunned right now. All we can see is the tangible. Please pray we’ll see the intangible in God’s perfect will for our lives.

Much thanks.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bronchitis & Brett

I’m swamped this week, so my posts will probably be short and sweet (hey, like me!!!).

Just a prayer request today! Please pray for Brett! He is experiencing his bi-yearly bout with bronchitis. Unfortunately, we know the symptoms all too well. Last night was coughing, and since he is such a BIG guy, he puts a lot of force into his coughs and usually ends up throwing up for oh, about 30 minutes.

I’m no help of course, since I can’t be in the vicinity of vomit without getting sick myself. (It’s my compassionate nature.) So, I just yell encouragements down the hall and try not to gag.

With his bronchitis, tendency to throw up, and regular work woes, Brett is really down and discouraged. I know he would appreciate your prayers for his improved health and well-being.

Thanks so much!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Library Love!

It’s nice when the library loves you back!

About a month ago, I requested the library purchase The South Beach Dining Guide, and I just got an e-mail from the librarian saying they’ve decided to purchase it and that they’ll call me as soon as it comes in.

I love the library, and the library loves me. Wheeee!

Just to spread a little goodwill around, here’s a link to my favoritest library E-V-E-R!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Shall Rise Up and Call Her Hilarious

A lot of people think being an only child is a lonely way to grow up.

But in my case, I grew up…laughing my head off.

God gave me the gift of godly parents who were (Dad) and are (Mom) two of the funniest people on the planet. The three of us had a constant party going on, so I’ve never felt cheated. I adored my parents, and adored the fact they treated me like an adult long before I was one.

Whether it was Dad wearing a ridiculous fur flap hat to shovel the driveway, or Mom trying to bake…anything that didn’t set off the smoke alarm, they taught me laughter is the best medicine to fix what ails you.

I’ve read some other mother tributes in honor of Mother’s Day, and it sounds like a lot of people think Proverbs 31 gets beat to death like an already dead horse this time of year.

Honestly? I always zoned out when the “Perfect Woman Message” was preached. I thought – “You know when I’ll listen to this? When a WOMAN preaches it!”

Hee! I was a tiny little feminist!

Now that I’m nearly 30 (gasp!), I’ve had a bit more time to reflect on good old Proverbia (that’s my unofficial name for the perfect woman whose skirts inhabit the 31st chapter of Proverbs).

And, I’ve come to really love the passage. It shows us how much God values women, how much society should value women, and gives us a snapshot of what women can accomplish by the grace of God.

Sort of like the Bible version of the Equal Rights Amendment.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, then you know how much I love my mom. And my mom loves me. It’s a mutual admiration society, and we know it.

What a lot of people don’t know is that Mom…wanted a BOY!

When she and my Dad were finally able to conceive after 11 years of marriage, they both knew it might be their only child.

Mom wanted a boy to carry on the Trotter name. Dad wanted a little girl all wrapped in pink!

Dad got his wish, and I came into the world.

Mom, of course, loved me at first sight. And Dad was gone over the moon.

You have only to look at our early family photos to see that we were three people deeply in love with one another.

Years later, Mom told me about wanting a boy. His name (my name!) would have been Nathan.

Over the years, I’ve joked with Mom that a son wouldn’t do this or that – and how lucky she is to have ME, as her daughter.

Mom decided to turn the tables at my wedding. When it was her turn to read a Bible verse, she chose a passage from the book of Ruth:

Ruth 4:13 – 15

13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

14 Then the women said to Naomi, "Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel.

15 "May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him."

Mom looked up with a smile and addressed the crowd and me. “My daughter who is here with me today is better to me than seven sons.”

I almost lost it right there, and we weren’t even into the ceremony yet!

So, I guess what it boils down to is that I love Mom exactly the way I love the Lord.

Because she first loved me.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

13 Things I Love about My Husband

1.) Kind
2.) Patient
3.) Chivalrous
4.) Affectionate
5.) Thinks I’m beautiful
6.) Understands my addiction to naps
7.) Could care less if the house is dirty
8.) Loves action movies as much as I do
9.) Complains when I don’t spend enough time with him
10.) Loves our bunnies with a sweet protectiveness
11.) Believes in me, my dreams, and the ability to accomplish them
12.) Listens, listens, listens to my constant stream of endless chatter
13.) Patiently waited four long years for me to finish college before we got married, just because I asked him to

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ann-Marie’s Accidental Attraction

What the Weasel Wrought

I don’t mean to brag, but I have lost some weight.

As anyone who has tried and successfully lost weight will know, this brings a heady sense of accomplishment and a delusional sense of attraction from the opposite sex.

Or is that just me?

Anyway, I was looking and feeling good when Brett and I went on our Friday night date. Brett decided to take me to…the bookstore.

Now, a bookstore might not be a bad date. If you like bookstores.

Herein lies a fundamental difference between me and the man I married. He loves bookstores – the fresh smell of ink on newly minted pages, bright and shiny book covers, the aggressive eagerness of books seeking owners. He shines with delight over unowned books, pages free from dog ears and suspicious stains.

Brand new, all yours, for only $29.99.

I, on the other hand, am a library lover. I view dog eared pages as recommendations from fellow readers. I see stains in cookbooks as recipe reviews. I like my books with experience. Mostly? I like the fact that they’re free.

I can take them home, read, review, and not spend a penny for the experience. If I check a book out more than four times in a year, I‘ll often decide to purchase it. And I always buy paperback. Books are for reading, in my opinion, and if I can’t read it in the bathtub or while eating a pizza – what’s the use?

But, I acquiesced to my husband’s date night idea, because it also included dinner at my choice of restaurant (I’m nothing if not willing to compromise – at least when I’m hungry).

As soon as we hit Barnes & Noble, my husband scented the air like a hunting dog and galloped down the aisle.

This is the other thing I hate about Brett and bookstores. I always lose him. He’s over in something boring like Finance or Firearms while I’m languishing away in Humor and Health.

What good is date night if you only see each other on the walk back to the car?

I resigned myself to another evening of worthless browsing. I grabbed my pen and paper to write down any interesting tomes for a library search at another time.

On one bottom shelf I found Tori Spelling’s new biography. I was actively scanning and even enjoying when I got the evil eye from teenager.

His raised eyebrow seemed to imply, “You’ve got a whole bookstore, and you’re reading Tori Spelling’s biography. Really! What did you? Just come out of the 90’s?”

I know. But it was a very expressive eyebrow.

Ashamed, I shelved the book and wandered over to the health section. Unaware my undoing loomed even closer.

I browsed for a while and eventually picked up a book on anorexia. Having tried my hand at both bulimia and anorexia and lacking the willpower to follow through on either, I have always been alternately fascinated and horrified by eating disorders.

The book, Thin, featured an emaciated teenager on the front cover. I propped the book open on the shelf and stood there reading for about 5 minutes. Just as I was getting engrossed in the first person accounts, I heard a throat clearing behind me.

A little weasel of a man stood there glaring at me. I guessed from his expression that he was annoyed, so I moved a little to the right, so he could get to the shelf. He continued to glare. So, I moved to the left. Still glaring. Chastened, I clutched my book and shuffled to another section.

He cleared his throat again, shot me another glare, and moved in to examine the shelf.


I stood there, my foot up against a display, and started reading my book. As I read about the disorders, and 82 pound girls who thought they were fat, I started shaking my head. “Um. Wow. Whew!”

I heard another throat clearing. I looked up and saw a very good looking young guy smiling at me. He nodded his head, gave me a terrific smile, and headed down the aisle.

Well, that was a confidence boost for my weight loss right there. I grinned to myself and went back to my book.

A few second later, I saw two guys looking at me. Both were smiling and nodding. Exuding confidence, I nodded back.

I thought, “Too bad I still don’t have my wedding ring. Talk about breaking hearts!”

I was on page 45 when I saw another guy give me smile, and I felt a little tingle go up my spine.

Now, I knew I lost a little weight…but this kind of attention seemed a little unwarranted.

I looked over at the guy and saw his gaze was fixed above my head. He dropped his eyes to me, gave a little laugh, and walked away.

Slowly, I turned around. And, for the first time, I noticed the display under which I had staked my claim. Right above my head, giant words proclaimed “SEX AND YOU! 101 EXCITING NEW POSITIONS!

That’s right. I was standing smack-dab in the middle of the SEX section, holding a giant book with a skinny girl on the front, uttering words like, “Wow!” “Whew!” and “Oh, Boy!”

My backdrop the whole time had been books on positions, the karma sutra, and how to keep a man satisfied in bed.

I was embarrassed to death, now that all those smiles and head nods became painfully obvious! I shelved the book and headed to the b-o-r-i-n-g Finance section to tell my husband.

He was very sympathetic, even telling me he was sure it was ME who received all the smiles, not the suggestive reading materials.

On our way out, I asked him if he wanted to buy the book I’d been unknowingly advertising.

“I thought you didn’t like to buy books,” he said.

“Um, well, that’s definitely NOT the kind I’d ever check out of a library.” I assured him.

I don’t need my books to be THAT experienced!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Finding Family

I went to a business dinner last night. It was a big shindig for all the major non-profits in town. Since I work for a wonderful non-profit, I was there with a co-worker and one of our favorite volunteers. This particular volunteer is a believer, and the two of us have had many uplifting conversations about our shared faith.

Working for a non-profit, I have planned my fair share of big community events.

One challenge most non-profits face is the dreaded “invocation.” The invocation is that moment, usually before dinner is served, where a minister, priest, pastor, rabbi, or “religious” person gets up and offers some sort of thank you or welcome in a religious vein.

Everyone stays far, far way from the word “prayer.”

Most non-profits have core values that correspond with some part of their members’ faiths, beliefs, and guiding principles. But many times, in a community of multiple members, there is no one shared faith.

This is where the invocation process gets sticky.

I remember being at an event where the invocation was offered by a Unitarian minister who talked about “centering ourselves,” and “becoming one with ourselves.” (as opposed to becoming two with ourselves?).

I’m a Christian, so I couldn’t participate in the sentiment, but I respect people who have different faiths, so I listened intently and learned something from the experience.

The little old ladies behind me were furious! They were Catholic and listening to the “centering,” made them very angry toward the organization.

Most non-profits have learned to use safe middle-of-the-road religious persons – usually Lutheran or Methodist ministers. Occasionally, I have also encountered a Catholic priest giving an invocation.

In fact, one of the best invocation-ers I ever heard was Reverend John.

He wrote and read beautiful works of poetry that started the thanks at the crest of the moon and went to the sandy shore at the bottom of the sea. Listening to him was like hearing a great children’s book on tape.

Most religious officials offer a generic thank you to “heaven” and ask for an increased sense of community.

For most people, the invocation is just a quick pause before they can start tearing into whatever rubber chicken entrée is about to be served.

But, for those of us who actually do believe in something, it is often suspenseful to see how the invocation will be directed.

Last night, as my believer friend/volunteer and I bowed our heads, the pastor of Calvary (something, something) Church (okay, I WAS thinking about the chicken) came to the podium to give the invocation.

He started talking about a man.

A great and wonderful man who once hosted a dinner. As his guests clamored for him to begin the dinner, the man stood, tied an apron around his waist, and began to wash the feet of his guests.

My friend raised her head and looked at me across the table. Our eyes met. We knew where this was going.

Throughout the prayer (for indeed that’s what it was), the pastor talked about “this man.” He talked about how this man served, how all he ever did was in service of his father. He talked about how we should be like this man. He even said that we should do all things to the glory of God.

Near the end of the prayer, he had yet to say the man’s name. I was beginning to think he might chicken out – just let everyone assume it was a good man, a prophet, anyone – knowing what the Christians in the audience would assume.

As he closed the prayer, he asked all these things in the name of that man, the man who died on a cross for us, died willingly to serve His father.

The man…Jesus Christ.

He said our Lord’s name with power, strength, and unashamed conviction. A tingle went up my spine as those two explosive words rippled through the banquet hall like a thunder clap.

There was a slight, respectful pause, before people began talking and eating dinner.

My friend looked back at me, a smile on her lips. I smiled back.

For a moment, the clattering utensils dropped to the background, and I was looking at my sister. My sister in Christ, and we were smiling, genuinely joyful. Our brother had spoken our Father’s name and proclaimed His Glory to this great crowd of witnesses.

He had not taken the safe path, the wide path. He had risked his reputation and future speaking engagements to do the right thing.

His unselfish act sparkled like a diamond. He gave so much more than an invocation; he gave an offering. Of himself.

And he guaranteed I’ll never take another invocation for granted.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

13 Things I Loved About My Childhood

1. My Smurfette Big Wheel

2. The light pole in our front yard (very British-looking and perfect for all my imaginary stories – I met many a prince at that light pole)

3. My tire swing – I’d swing and sing at the top of my lungs

4. Jason Cook, my across the street neighbor and partner in crime

5. Yellow shag carpeting in the basement

6. The venetian blinds in my room (positioned above my desk so I could mail “letters” into the blinds and have them delivered to me instantly!)

7. Dad’s patched brown leather recliner

8. Chalkboard Contact paper Dad stuck to the kitchen cabinets so we could leave silly messages for each other

9. Mom’s no-limit-on-popsicles-because-they’re just-flavored-water rule

10. Dad letting me drive his Moped into the garage

11. Playing tennis against myself in the basement (I was good, but I was better)

12. The freedom to talk to myself anywhere about anything

13. Reading Archie comic books at the breakfast table (while my parents did their devotions, no less!)